Tag Archives: Egypt

The Libyan War Spills Over to Egypt, Algeria, Niger and Europe – Scenarios for the Future of Libya

This article is the second of our series focusing on scenarios depicting the range of spillover that could stem from the Libyan war. In our previous article, we detailed two scenarios of spillover that initiate a renewed war encompassing more than just Libya. We discussed a case of spillover in one direction – where Europe is drawn into this renewed war, as well as spillover in two directions, where Algeria and Niger are also drawn into the war. In this article, we shall conclude the spillover scenarios with a contagion taking place in all directions (west towards Algeria, south towards Niger, east towards Egypt, and north towards Europe).

It is important to note our choices for spillover sub-scenarios. There are many combinations that could occur under spillover conditions, but we have chosen three examples that maybe considered as ideal-types with particular country cases for the sake of brevity: spillover in only one direction (north towards Europe), spillover in two directions (Algeria/Niger), and spillover in all directions (Algeria/Niger/Egypt/Europe). Spillover in all directions, of course, is not limited to just Algeria, Niger, Egypt, and Europe – it can also include Tunisia and Chad. For the sake of brevity, we chose one country in each direction for this scenario. Furthermore, the intensity of and response to spillover plays a key role in these sub-scenarios. The renewed war – now encompassing new actors outside of Libya – is altered significantly as intensity and response levels rise. However, we shall only briefly outline these scenarios, as they are fundamentally new conflicts and would require new scenarios to fully understand their depth.

Migrant/Refugee: For the purposes of the spillover scenarios, we have chosen to use the BBC’s use of the term migrant, which refers to people migrating to other countries that have not yet received asylum (BBC News, March 4, 2016). However, we use the term refugee when referring to Libyans fleeing the discussed conflict.

Note: Considering the future names of potential factions that would result from a new split between the unity government, we shall use the label nationalist for those that supported the nationalist/liberal-dominated Council of Representatives (COR) and any future anti-Islamist factions; Islamist to note those that supported the General National Congress (GNC) and any future pro-political Islamic movements; and Salafist will remain the label of choice for groups that reject democratic institutions and embrace jihadism.

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Sub-scenario 2.2.3 Conflict Spills Over in All Directions (Algeria, Niger, Egypt, and Europe)

Smuggling operations crossing the Libyan-Algerian border expand as conflict continue to rage. Islamist militants also utilize the smuggling routes to infiltrate Libya from Algeria and join Salafist groups there. As Algeria increases the security of its border region with Libya, Islamist militants turn to join extremist groups already operating in Algeria, while spreading to other now easier routes, both north, using the sea and boats and south to Niger. Furthermore, conflict between the Toubou and Tuareg tribes over the lucrative smuggling routes causes their kinsmen from Algeria, Niger, and Chad to cross into Libya, while Salafists move even more freely to and from Libya – thus turning the Southern Libya conflict into a regional conflict between tribal forces. See Mitchell, “Libyan War Spills Over to Europe, Algeria, and Niger – Sc 2.2 (1) – Scenarios for the Future of Libya” for a more detailed spillover scenario in Algeria that has already been discussed.

Niger begins to experience spillover from the Libyan conflict as Toubou and Tuareg cross from Niger into Southern Libya. The severity of tribal conflict in Southern Libya determines whether or not conflict breaks out between the Tuareg and Toubou within Niger’s borders. Facing significant pressure in Libya, as well as the threat of international intervention, jihadists begin relocating their operations to Niger. Considering Niger’s instability and already existing threat of Boko Haram, which leads wilayat Gharb Ifriqiyyiah for the Islamic State (see Lavoix, “At War Against the Islamic State – A Global Theatre of War,” updated June 20, 2016) and operated initially essentially in southern Niger – notably in Diffa and Bosso (see June attacks – UN News Centre, June 6, 2016; Donovan, UNHCR, June 7, 2016), the increase of jihadists arriving from Libya prompts a serious military response and increased operations near the Niger-Libyan border. See Mitchell, “Libyan War Spills Over to Europe, Algeria, and Niger – Sc 2.2 (1) – Scenarios for the Future of Libya” for a more detailed spillover scenario in Niger that has already been discussed. Nonetheless, the Salafist fighters coming from Libya and those controlling the South increasingly connect.

Posted on the Official Page for the Military Spokesman of the Armed Forces Facebook page, 30 May 2016

Meanwhile, considering the presence of Islamic State groups already in the Sinai, the spillover from Libya causes greater instability throughout Egypt. Smugglers utilize routes through the Libyan-Egyptian border to covertly transfer drugs, migrants, militants and weapons – all of which undermine Egypt’s stability. The porous border between the two countries allows Salafist groups to move fighters and weapons between strongholds in Libya and the Sinai. General Haftar increasingly uses Egypt’s assistance to train his forces and to receive weapons. As a result, Islamic State militants target remaining Egyptian migrant workers in Libya. Meanwhile, their Salafist brothers in the Sinai begin to increasingly attack Egyptian targets in retaliation for Egypt’s assistance to Haftar’s forces. Wanting to expand their operations and keep pressure on rivals, al-Qaeda affiliates in Libya escalate their attacks on Haftar’s forces in the east, as well as Egyptian forces along the border. Attacks by Salafist groups forces Egypt to militarily strike back in Libya in a series of operations – effectively opening up a second front in its fight against terrorism (Libya to the west, and the Sinai to the east). The target proves however elusive as it now moves increasingly easily also to the south. To retain Egypt’s support, Haftar’s forces exert additional pressure on Salafist groups as punishment. As the nationalists put intense pressure on these Salafist groups, militants are smuggled into the Sinai region to bulk up their group’s capabilities against Cairo. Wilayat Sinai makes a general call to their global supporters to join their war in Egypt, with tremendous impact on an already dwindling tourism.

If Egypt successfully closes its border and prevents weapons and militants from infiltrating, there is the risk that Salafist groups already in Egypt will launch increased attacks against border security targets in order to disrupt their efforts. However, if Egypt is unsuccessful in closing the border, Salafist groups in Libya and the Sinai will be able to reinforce each other with fighters and weapons – depending on the need in each country. Regardless of success or failure to close the border, spillover from the Libyan conflict permeates Egypt, which increases its instability and draws Egypt into the renewed war.

The migrant flow from Libya into Europe increases as Libyan actors forsake some state functions – such as border security – in order to bolster their frontline forces. Salafist groups utilize the migrant flows to smuggle jihadists into Europe to carry out attacks. These jihadist cells originating in Libya begin targeting European populations as an alternative to fighting mounting pressure in Libya. Two new routes to Europe are now opened, one from Algeria and one from Egypt, taxing European capabilities to deal with the rising threat. Furthermore, the deployment of European advisers and Special Forces in support of Libyan actors against Salafist threats also results in jihadists attacking European targets. If Europe is unsuccessful in stopping the migrant flow, it continues to experience terrorist attacks emanating from Libya. If successful, Europe changes the conflict in Libya. With less opportunity to infiltrate European countries, jihadists begin to increasingly target the government and military officials of the other Libyan actors. This, in turn, forces the Islamists and nationalists to focus more on the Salafist groups. With the migrant flow stopped, the refugees and migrants stuck in Libya cause further instability in the coastal regions, join armed groups as an alternative, or head to neighboring countries – all of which affect spillover and the war in Libya. See Mitchell, “Libyan War Spills Over to Europe, Algeria, and Niger – Sc 2.2 (1) – Scenarios for the Future of Libya” for a more detailed spillover scenario in Europe that has already been discussed.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.2.3 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The ability of militants to use smuggling routes to infiltrate Egypt. The likelihood of this scenario increases if militants are able to infiltrate Egypt through smuggling routes. With civil war in Libya to the west and Egypt dealing with a Sinai problem to the east, militants are more easily able to utilize established drug, migrant, and weapons trafficking routes to infiltrate Egypt (AhramOnline, October 2, 2015).
  2. The ability of Egypt to effectively patrol its border. With Libya not able to secure its side of the border, the responsibility falls to Egypt to secure the entire border. Already having to deal with jihadists in the Sinai, Egypt will likely not be able to secure the entire Libyan-Egyptian border, which allows smuggling rings to profit by moving drugs, weapons, migrants, and militants to and from Libya. A previous indication of Egypt’s attempt to secure the border occurred when it increased its ground and air presence on the border, as well as reached an agreement with the U.S. in 2015 on a “Border Security Mobile Surveillance Sensor Security System” along the Egyptian-Libyan border (Nkala, DefenseNews, July 26, 2015; Muhlberger, AhramOnline, January 27, 2016).
  3. The stability of Egypt. Egypt’s internal stability determines how much it will be affected by spillover from Libya. The level of economic and political stability, as well as terrorism in the Sinai region, all affect Egypt’s overall stability. Past indications affecting its stability occurred when Egypt’s economy faced currency depreciation and a decrease in tourism and investment (Karuri, Africa News, July 4, 2016); as well jihadist groups continuing an insurgency from the Sinai region (STRATFOR, June 29, 2016).
  4. The level of pressure on Salafist groups to migrate operations towards Egypt. If the Islamists, Misratans, and nationalists put enough pressure on Salafist groups to the point of destroying them completely, the jihadists will likely be more willing to shift their operations to Egypt, which increases the likelihood of this spillover scenario. Geographically, the Salafist hotbed of Derna is very close to the Egyptian border and will most likely be the origin of jihadists fleeing into Egypt if this indication occurs.
  5. The willingness of Egypt to support Haftar and his forces. Egypt’s level of willingness to support Haftar and provide military assistance to his forces will play a role in the Salafists’ level of retaliation. The likelihood of this scenario increases the more Egypt directly supports Haftar. Past indications occurred when Egyptian President El-Sisi called on international support for General Haftar and his National Army (Middle East Monitor, March 18, 2016); when Egypt armed Haftar and the Libyan National Army (Dettmer, Voice of America, May 17, 2016; Toaldo and Fitzgerald, European Council on Foreign Relations, June 15, 2016); and when Egypt offered military training and intelligence assistance in 2014 to the forces under the Tobruk government – which included Haftar and his forces (Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures: State of Play – Nationalist Forces (2),” December 1, 2014).
  6. The Salafists’ level of retaliation towards Egypt. The level of Salafists’ retaliation towards Egypt is rooted in Egypt’s assistance for the hated General Haftar. The more Egypt supports Haftar’s forces, the higher the level of retaliation. In Libya, Salafists will likely target Egyptian migrants or Egyptian security personnel on the border. Salafist groups operating in the Sinai will likely carry out attacks within Egypt as retaliation for events in Libya.
  7. The willingness of al-Qaeda to intensify its presence in Libya and Egypt. If al-Qaeda begins to lose influence as a result of pressure from other Libyan actors, it may try to intensify its presence in Libya. Furthermore, if instability continues to increase in Egypt, and if Islamic State groups in the Sinai are seeing greater success, al-Qaeda may attempt to increase its presence their as well. In either case, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  8. Indicators 1-8 of sub-scenario 2.2.1 also act here in a similar way.
  9. Indicators 1-10 of sub-scenario 2.2.2 also act here in a similar way.

Bibliography

Featured Photo: Still from “New ISIS Video Shows Recruits Training in Sinai Peninsula, Egypt,” April 4, 2016

“Assessing the Jihadist Threat in Egypt: The Sinai Peninsula,” STRATFOR, June 29, 2016

“Attacks by Boko Haram continue in Niger’s Diffa region, forcing more people to flee – UN,” UN News Centre, June 6, 2016

“Egypt’s army sometimes operates beyond border to ‘chase smuggler’: Libyan FM,” Ahram Online, October 2, 2015

Helene Lavoix, “At War Against the Islamic State – A Global Theatre of War,” The Red Team Analysis Society, November 23, 2015

Jamie Dettmer, “Will Arming Libya’s ‘Unity’ Government Escalate Conflict?” Voice of America, May 17, 2016

Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures: State of Play – Nationalist Forces (2),” The Red Team Analysis Society, December 1, 2014

Ken Karuri, “Egyptian pound facing another devaluation as dollar shortage persists,” Africa News, July 4, 2016

Louise Donovan, “Thousands flee Boko Haram attack on Niger town,” UNHCR, June 7, 2016

Mattia Toaldo and Mary Fitzgerald, “A Quick Guide to Libya’s Main Players,” European Council on Foreign Relations, June 15, 2016

“Migrant crisis: Migration to Europe explained in seven charts,” BBC News, March 4, 2016

Oscar Nkala, “Tunisia, Egypt Boost Libyan Border Security,” DefenseNews, July 26, 2015

“Sisi calls for support for Libya’s Haftar,” Middle East Monitor, March 18, 2016

Wolfgang Muhlberger, “A Thorny Dossier: Egypt’s Libya Policy,” Ahram Online, January 27, 2016

Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Sc 2 (4) Qatar Intervenes on the Islamist Side

This article is the fourth of our series focusing on scenarios depicting interventions in the Libyan war. In our previous article, we discussed an Egyptian intervention in Libya on the nationalist side. In this article, we shall detail a Qatari intervention on the side of the Islamists, as well as possible scenario outcomes for an intensified, protracted conflict that results from either an Egyptian or Qatari intervention. At this stage for our scenarios, external actors have decided to militarily intervene in Libya by taking a side with either the Islamists or nationalists that could emerge from a renewed split in the Government of National Accord (see previous article).

Considering the future names of potential factions that would result from a new split between the unity government, we shall use the label nationalist for the nationalist/liberal-dominated Council of Representatives and any future anti-Islamist factions; Islamist to note the General National Congress and any future pro-political Islamic movements; and Salafi will remain the label of choice for groups that reject democratic institutions and embrace jihadism.

For intents and purposes of not detailing every possible unilateral intervention scenario, we chose to detail one country per unilateral intervention type, as we deemed as most likely and representative.

Libya, scenarios Libya, Islamic State, Haftar, GNC, CoR, scenarios
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Sub-scenario 2.1.1.3: Qatar Enters the Libyan Conflict on the Islamist’s Side

Doha, Qatar

Concerned with installing a friendly, Islamist-dominated central government in Libya, Qatar decides to intervene. As detailed in the previous post, other regional powers – with the exception of Egypt – are less inclined to unilaterally intervene (see Sc 2.1.1.2). At this point, Egypt has not unilaterally intervened in Libya, and is potentially awaiting an international coalition to intervene before deploying its forces. Thus, Qatar has decided to preemptively intervene to boost the power of the Islamists in Libya. Its objective is to assist the Islamists in rebuilding Libya as a Muslim Brotherhood-dominated state with Sharia as its basis for governance, and to avoid an international intervention that may reduce the chances to see this specific Islamist Libya emerging.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.1.3 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Perceptions of national interests regarding the outcome of Libya’s civil war. As detailed in indicator 1 of Sc. 2.1.1.2, currently, Algeria and Tunisia are highly unlikely to intervene considering their fear of increased destabilization caused by interventions. Saudi Arabia is currently focused on more pressing national interests, and is also unlikely to intervene. Egypt has significant national interests in the outcome of Libya’s civil war; particularly fear of an Islamist government coming to power and the Salafi threats originating next door. Generally supportive of Islamist movements, Qatar and Turkey have national interests in Libya in the form of helping the Islamists come to power.
  2. The level of risk between unilaterally intervening and providing extensive support. If unilaterally intervening to ensure that Libya becomes an Islamist state is worth the risk – compared to just providing extensive support without deploying forces – the likelihood of Qatar intervening increases.
  3. The level of risk for Qatar to intervene in favor of the Islamists and help to make Libya a Muslim-Brotherhood state. Currently, Qatar may not be as willing to unilaterally intervene in favor of the Islamists, so as to avoid international disapproval and not be subject to retaliatory measures such as sanctions or border closings (for example, see The Clarion Project, “Saudis Threaten Qatar Over Muslim Brotherhood Support,” February 23, 2014). A higher level of risk decreases the likelihood of this scenario.
  4. The level of external constraints on Qatar that could prevent it from fully intervening in favor of the Islamists. For example, with ground troops currently deployed in Yemen to support the Saudi intervention, its involvement in Syria, and its backing of Saudi Arabia in the intensifying Saudi-Iran crisis, Qatar may be too constrained to focus on Libya and unilaterally send forces in support of the Islamists (Cafiero and Stout, LobeLog, December 8, 2015; Al-Jazeera, January 6, 2016; Gulf State Analytics, September 2015).
  5. The level of risk for Egypt between waiting for an international coalition or not. If Egypt decides to wait for an international coalition to be formed for a Libyan intervention, the likelihood of this scenario increases as Qatar could take advantage of Egypt’s hesitance and preemptively intervenes to help remove the nationalists from the Islamists’ road to power. However, if Egypt decides to wait for a UN intervention, Qatar might also decide that intervention is not necessary, but rather provide extensive support from outside the country – thus decreasing the likelihood of this scenario.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.3.1: Qatar’s Intervention Succeeds as No Other External Actor gets Involved Meaningfully to Support the Nationalists, Libya becomes an Islamist State

Having decided to intervene in the conflict on the Islamist side, Qatar deploys air and ground forces in Libya. With full Qatari military forces on the ground coordinating with Islamist military coalitions, the nationalists gradually incur losses of territory and legitimacy – eventually leading to a successful intervention for Qatar. Without a political and military rival in the East, the Islamists become the uncontested central government and rebuild Libya as an Islamist state. With an Islamist government in power that implements Sharia law, some Salafi-nationalist groups may be allowed to exist, considering their recent announcement declaring that any government that supports Sharia law would be recognized as legitimate in their eyes. The Islamic State stronghold in Sirte would pose a problem for the rebuilding of an Islamist state, and thus would have to be dealt with by the Islamist government and Qatar’s forces in Libya.

However, we consider a successful Qatari intervention scenario highly unlikely, considering Egypt’s likely decision to either unilaterally intervene first, or immediately intervene in favor of the nationalists in response to a Qatari intervention in Libya.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.1.3.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of external support for the Islamic State in Libya. An influx of external support in the form of foreign fighters, resources, and leadership would boost the current operational capabilities of the Islamic State in Libya – which would help disrupt the Qatari intervention, and decrease the likelihood of this scenario occurring. Past indications include reports of an influx of foreign recruits headed to the Islamist State stronghold in Sirte, as well as reports of senior Islamic State leaders arriving in Libya (El-Ghobashy and Morajea, The Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2015; Crilly, The Telegraph, December 2, 2015).
  2. Ability of Qatar and the Islamists to simultaneously combat the Islamic State and nationalist forces if both concentrate their efforts against the Qatari intervention. The nationalists will actively deploy their forces to counter the Qatari intervention, and, depending on its goals and military situation, the Islamic State may try to target the Qatari forces or increase their attacks against the Islamist leaders – forcing the Qatari-Islamist coalition to simultaneously confront two enemies. Combatting two enemies at once (one conventional, one unconventional) decreases the likelihood of this scenario occurring. However, if the Islamic State is more focused on attacking oil facilities in Libya to deplete the governments’ vital oil resources – as is currently the case (STRATFOR, January 18, 2016), they may be less inclined to fully focus on countering a Qatari intervention.
  3. The willingness of Islamist and Salafi-nationalist groups to coordinate their efforts against the nationalists. The Islamists currently have ties to the hardliner Islamist groups in Eastern Libya (some of the coalitions include Salafi-nationalists), and have loosely allied with them to oppose Haftar’s Operation Dignity (Amer, The Washington Institute, December 18, 2015; Mitchell, “Islamist Forces II,” January 26, 2015; Libya Channel, December 31, 2015). By allying with coalitions of mixed Islamists and Salafi-nationalists, the more moderate Islamists have already shown their willingness to unite with extremist groups against a common enemy. Recently, the Derna Mujahidine Shura Council – a Salafi-nationalist group (see Mitchell, “Islamist Forces II”) – announced its support for “any government” where “(Islamic) Sharia Law is the only source of any legislation, and anything in the form of legislation, laws or rules that contravenes sharia is rejected” (Libya Herald, December 24, 2015). The willingness on both sides to ally and coordinate against a common enemy, as well as the Salafi-nationalist’s support of a Sharia-based government increases the likelihood of this scenario.
  4. The perception of Libyan tribes towards foreign troops on the ground. Considering the deep impact of colonization on Libya’s tribal groups, some may consider foreign troops on Libyan soil reminiscent of colonization. Tribes siding with the nationalists will likely perceive Qatar’s involvement in a negative light and be willing to fight both the Qatari forces and Islamist forces. However, Qatar has had previous interaction with Libya’s Tuareg and Toubou tribes by brokering a ceasefire in November 2015 (The Peninsula, November 24, 2015). Although the ceasefire was quickly violated, the Tuareg have reiterated their commitment to the ceasefire agreement brokered by Qatar (Middle East Monitor, December 22, 2015). Considering Qatar’s interaction and temporary success with the two Libyan tribes, it may positively impact their perception of Qatar. The likelihood of positive perception, and possible assistance, by Libyan tribes towards Qatar will depend on the tribes’ previous interactions with it and their allegiances to either the nationalists or Islamists.
  5. The level of cohesiveness among Islamists when rebuilding the state. If Libya’s Islamists lack cohesiveness, it will be very difficult to rebuild Libya as an Islamist state, and certainly impact the likelihood of this scenario. Past indications of internal splits occurred when rifts appeared in Jordan and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood groups (Al Sharif, Al-Monitor, March 3, 2015; Alabbasi, Middle East Eye, December 17, 2015; Trager and Shalabi, The Washington Institute, January 17, 2016).
  6. The level of ideological appeal for Salafi groups in light of the new Islamist government. If an Islamist government comes to power and manages to begin making progress in rebuilding the state, Salafi groups may lose their ideological appeal. However, if they choose to raise the stakes ideologically by declaring the Islamist government as an apostate, the government may have more difficulty in stabilization and rebuilding efforts. A past indication signifying the Islamic State’s opposition to Islamists in Libya occurred when the eleventh issue of its Dabiq magazine noted the indignation of Abul Mughirah al Qahtani (leader of Islamic State’s Libyan wiliyat) towards the armed Islamist groups that support the General National Congress, calling them “apostate forces” (Dabiq, Issue 11).

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.3.2: Qatar’s Intervention Fails, Forces a Withdrawal

Qatari intervention forces deploy, and coordinate with the Islamists to defeat the nationalists and then focus on the Islamic State threat in Sirte. Realizing the intervention threat of being caught in a more effective pincer movement (see map below), the Islamic State in Sirte bolsters its power with overwhelming external support and fighters. Forced to simultaneously confront the expanding Islamic State and nationalist forces in and around the Islamist territory, Qatar’s intervention force and the Islamist forces begin to get bogged down in a drawn-out, bloody conflict. With no assistance from Turkey (the other pro-Islamist external actor), Qatar decides to withdraw its forces and the intervention fails.

Libyan military situation as of January 6, 2016

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.1.3.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Indicators 1, 2, 4 from scenario 2.1.1.3.1 act here in a similar way to impact the likelihood of a failed intervention.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.2.3: The Egyptian (or Qatari) Intervention Results in Intensified, Protracted Conflict as Qatar (or Egypt) gets Involved to Support the Islamists (or nationalists)

This scenario is interchangeable between Egypt and Qatar. However, we deduce that Egypt is more likely to launch the initial intervention with a Qatari intervention response, rather than the other way around.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.2.3.1: General Conflagration of the Region

The deployments of Egyptian and Qatari forces, or full-scale war would likely cause general conflagration of the whole region and significantly impact the current geopolitical paradigm. Additionally, this could potentially lead to broader international involvement, as we shall detail in future scenarios.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.2.3.2: Egypt and the Nationalists Emerge Victorious, Qatar and the Islamists are Defeated, and Libya becomes a Secular State

The intensified, protracted conflict forces Egypt to increase the strength of its intervention force, which, when combined with the nationalists’ forces, allows them to gradually inflict losses on the Qatari and Islamist forces. Not willing to commit even more military forces to a drawn-out intervention or not able to match Egypt’s increased military commitment, Qatar and its Libyan Islamist allies on the ground suffer gradual territorial losses until defeat. Qatar withdraws its intervention forces and the Islamists are subject to the victorious nationalist and liberal-dominated government that becomes the uncontested central government. Pressured by Egypt to repress Islamist groups in Libya and reinforced by its own dislike of Islamists, the nationalist and liberal government cracks down on Islamism while rebuilding a more secular state. With a more secular, anti-Islamist government in power, all Salafi groups would be targeted and not allowed to exist.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.1.2.3.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Egypt’s willingness to increase its intervention force strength. If Qatar comes close to matching Egypt’s original intervention force strength (particularly with air power), Egypt will likely need to increase its strength in order to emerge victorious. Thus, its willingness or not to deploy additional forces will impact the likelihood of this scenario.
  2. Qatar’s willingness to commit more military forces to match Egypt’s military commitment. If Qatar is unwilling to commit sufficient military forces to match the level of Egypt’s committed military forces in Libya, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  3. The level of diplomatic effort to prevent other external actors from getting involved. If Egypt is concerned for the possibility of other external actors getting involved on the Islamist side with Qatar (primarily Turkey, in this case), it may pursue intense diplomatic efforts to keep the external actor out of Libya. If other external actors get involved, it may lead to general conflagration of the region (see above).
  4. The level of Egyptian pressure to repress Islamist groups in Libya. Once Egypt and the nationalists emerge victorious, there remains the question of rebuilding the state. Considering Egypt’s position on the Muslim Brotherhood within its own borders and its intervention in Libya to see the nationalists defeat the Islamists, it will likely put significant pressure on the nationalists and liberals of the victorious government to repress or entirely ban Islamists from participating in the government. If it gives in to Egypt’s pressure, the nationalist and liberal dominated government will attempt to rebuild a more secular state. A past indication of this occurred when Egypt – under El-Sisi’s rule – implemented an “unprecedented crackdown” on the Muslim Brotherhood (Brown and Dunne, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 29, 2015). Furthermore, our peacebuilding mission scenario (Mitchell, “A Successful Peacebuilding Mission?”) details indications on what is needed to successfully stabilize and rebuild the Libyan state, with the primary differences being that 2.1.1.2.3.2 is based on a nationalist victory and lacks some of the strength it might have had with a united government from Sc. 1.1.1.2.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.2.3.3: Qatar and the Islamists Emerge Victorious, Egypt and the Nationalists are Defeated, and Libya becomes an Islamist State

Qatar Emiri Air Force C-17

Deciding to deploy significant forces to Libya in support of the Islamists, Qatar increases the chances of an Islamist victory. To further increase their chances of victory, the Islamists increasingly ally with hardliner Islamist groups and Salafi-nationalist groups in Eastern Libya. With full Qatari military forces on the ground and strengthened alliances between the Islamists and Salafi groups, Egypt and the nationalists gradually incur losses of territory and legitimacy – eventually leading to a victory for Qatar and the Islamists. Without a political and military rival in the East, the Islamists become the uncontested central government and attempt to rebuild Libya as an Islamist state.

With an Islamist government in power that implements Sharia law, some Salafi-nationalist groups may be allowed to exist, considering their recent announcement declaring that any government that implements Sharia law would be recognized as legitimate in their eyes. However, some Salafi groups – notably the Islamic State – may react to the Islamist government in one of two ways. They either lose ideological appeal in Libya, thus facing a decrease in mobilization power, or, they increase the stakes ideologically to declare the Islamist government as an apostate government unless it declares allegiance to the Islamic State. Both reactions impact the Islamist governments’ ability to rebuild and govern.

However, we consider a Qatari-Islamist victory scenario highly unlikely, considering Egypt’s high level of motivation and military power, as well as Qatar’s seemingly limited ability to match Egypt’s military strength in a Libya intervention scenario.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.1.2.3.3 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Qatar’s willingness to commit more military forces to match Egypt’s military commitment. If Qatar is willing to commit sufficient military forces to match or exceed the level of Egypt’s committed military forces in Libya, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  2. The willingness of Islamist and Salafi-nationalist groups to coordinate their efforts against the nationalists. The Islamists have ties to the hardliner Islamist groups in Eastern Libya (some of the coalitions include Salafi-nationalists), and have loosely allied with them to oppose Haftar’s Operation Dignity (Amer, The Washington Institute, December 18, 2015; Mitchell, “Islamist Forces II,” January 26, 2015; Libya Channel, December 31, 2015). By allying with coalitions of mixed Islamists and Salafi-nationalists, the more moderate Islamists have already shown their willingness to unite with extremist groups against a common enemy. Recently, the Derna Mujahidine Shura Council – a Salafi-nationalist group (see Mitchell, Islamist Forces II”) – announced its support for “any government” where “(Islamic) Sharia Law is the only source of any legislation, and anything in the form of legislation, laws or rules that contravenes sharia is rejected” (Libya Herald, December 24, 2015). The willingness on both sides to ally and coordinate against a common enemy increases the likelihood of this scenario.
  3. The level of cohesiveness among Islamists when rebuilding the state. If Libya’s Islamists lack cohesiveness, it will be very difficult to rebuild Libya as an Islamist state, and certainly impact the likelihood of this scenario. Past indications of internal splits occurred when rifts appeared in Jordan and Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood groups (Al Sharif, Al-Monitor, March 3, 2015; Alabbasi, Middle East Eye, December 17, 2015; Trager and Shalabi, The Washington Institute, January 17, 2016).
  4. The level of ideological appeal for Salafi groups in light of the new Islamist government. If an Islamist government comes to power and manages to begin making progress in rebuilding the state, Salafi groups may lose their ideological appeal. However, if they choose to raise the stakes ideologically by declaring the Islamist government as an apostate, the government may have more difficulty in stabilization and rebuilding efforts. A past indication signifying the Islamic State’s opposition to Islamists in Libya occurred when the eleventh issue of its Dabiq magazine noted the indignation of Abul Mughirah al Qahtani (leader of Islamic State’s Libyan wiliyat) towards the armed Islamist groups that support the General National Congress, calling them “apostate forces” (Dabiq, Issue 11).

In our next post, we shall discuss international interventions (from beyond the region) that take sides in Libya’s civil war.

Bibliography

Featured Photo:  Qatari Mirage jet by Mikhail Serbin [CC BY-NC-ND 2.0] via Flickr

“Derna Mujahidine Shura Council will support ‘any’ Islamic Sharia government,” Libya Herald, December 24, 2015

Eric Trager and Marina Shalabi, “The Brotherhood Breaks Down,” The Washington Institute, January 17, 2016

Fikra Forum, “The Use of Violence in Libya,” The Washington Institute, December 18, 2015

“From the Battle of Al-Ahzab to the War of Coalitions,” Dabiq, Issue 11, The Clarion Project

Giorgio Cafiero and Alex Stout, “Qatar and the Islamic State,” LobeLog

“Islamic State Will Keep Targeting Libya’s Oil Infrastructure,” STRATFOR Global Intelligence, January 18, 2016

“IS rebukes Benghazi Revolutionaries’ Shura Council in verbal counter-attack,” Libya Channel, December 31, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures: State of Play – Islamist Forces (2),” The Red Team Analysis Society, January 26, 2015

“Libya’s Tuareg affirm commitment to ceasefire agreement signed in Qatar,” Middle East Monitor, December 22, 2015

Mamoon Alabbasi, “Rift widens in Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood after spokesman’s sacking,” Middle East Eye, December 18, 2015

Monthly Monitor Report, Gulf State Analytics, September 2015

“More countries back Saudi Arabia in Iran dispute,” Al Jazeera, January 6, 2016

Nathan J. Brown and Michele Dunne, “Unprecedented Pressures, Uncharted Course for Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, July 29, 2015

Osama Al Sharif, “Unprecedented rift splits Jordan’s Muslim Brotherhood,” Al-Monitor, March 3, 2015

“Qatar brokers deal between Libya tribes,” The Peninsula, November 24, 2015

Rob Crilly, “Islamic State is building a ‘retreat zone’ in Libya with 3000 fighters, say UN experts,” The Telegraph, December 2, 2015

“Saudis Threaten Qatar Over Muslim Brotherhood Support,” The Clarion Project, February 23, 2014

Tamer El-Ghobashy and Hassan Morajea, “Islamic State Tightens Grip on Libyan Stronghold of Sirte,” The Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2015

The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly – 21 January 2016

Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals… Each section focuses on signals related to a specific theme: world (international politics and geopolitics); economy; science; analysis, strategy and futures; technology and weapons; energy and environment. However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

Read the 21 January 2016 scan  

The Weekly is the scan of The Red (Team) Analysis Society and it focuses on national and international security issues. It was started as an experiment with Paper.li as a way to collect ideas, notably through Twitter. Its success and its usefulness led to its continuation.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement but points to new, emerging, escalating or stabilizing problems and issues.

If you wish to consult the scan after the end of the week period, use the “archives” directly on The Weekly.

Featured image: “C-band Radar-dish Antenna”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Sc 2 (3) Egypt Intervenes on the Nationalist Side

Recently, announcements have been made regarding the acceptance of a UN-facilitated peace agreement with a framework to form a Government of National Accord (UN News Centre, January 2, 2016). However, only 88 lawmakers from the rival governments were in attendance at the signing, while the Deputy Speaker of the GNC stated on January 2nd that the GNC rejects the agreement, and the attending lawmakers represented “only themselves” – signifying difficulties and confusion regarding a fully-endorsed agreement by both sides (Abbas, Albawaba News, January 2, 2016; DePetris, Quartz, January 1, 2016). Furthermore, although the peace deal is supported by the international community and the UN has promised to support Libya in its transition (Ibid; Narayan and Robertson, CNN, December 17, 2015), there is an array of indicators discussed in “Scenarios 1: Towards Peace? (1)” and “Scenarios 1 (2) – A Victorious United Government?” that impact the likelihood of not only successfully forming a united government, but also one that is effective enough to retain control and eliminate Salafi threats. With a highly fragile peace agreement that continues to lack full Libyan support (Soguel, The Christian Science Monitor, December 17, 2015), there is a high possibility of regression over the next three years – and thus, it is still valid to envision the scenarios below as Libya may return to a civil war between Islamists, nationalists, and their armed coalitions. Furthermore, the high likelihood of a failed unity government in conditions of heightened need for an allowed international intervention against Salafi threats may have prompted the international community’s decision to support that government – despite its extreme fragility (see Mitchell, Scenarios 1 (3) – A Successful Peacebuilding Mission?”).

This article is the third of our series focusing on scenarios depicting interventions in the Libyan war. In our previous article, we discussed a Joint Arab Force intervention in Libya on the side of the Council of Representatives (COR). In this article, we shall detail types of unilateral interventions from the region. At this stage, external actors have decided to militarily intervene in Libya by taking a side with either the General National Congress (GNC), COR (Sc 2.1.1), or any other future entities, still divided over nationalist versus Islamic lines, that could emerge from a renewed split in the Government of National Accord (GNA – a label used by the UN for the Libyan peace agreement framework). Continue reading Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Sc 2 (3) Egypt Intervenes on the Nationalist Side

Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Scenario 2 (2) – The Joint Arab Force Intervenes

This article is the second of our series focusing on scenarios depicting interventions in the Libyan war. As detailed previously we have reached the following stage in our sub-scenarios:

External actors have decided to militarily intervene in Libya by taking a side with either the GNC or COR (Sc 2.1.1). The League of Arab States (LAS) meets to decide about an intervention in Libya and to form the related Joint Arab Force. Considering the position of each country, the debates are very animated to say the least (Sc 2.1.1.1). As a result, the Arab League internally fragments over the decision to intervene. Nonetheless a Joint Arab Force is formed involving three countries, Egypt, the UAE, and Jordan. It is about to start intervening in Libya. (Sc 2.1.1.1.1).

Scenario Libya intervention, war in Libya, future of Libya
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Sub-scenario 2.1.1.1.1.1 The Limited Joint Arab Force Intervention Succeeds as No Other External Actor gets Involved Meaningfully to Support the GNC

The Joint Arab Force deploys its air and ground forces to Libya in support of the Council of Representatives. It coordinates with General Haftar to target and eliminate Salafi groups while simultaneously engaging Dawn of Libya forces that quickly respond to intervention, as Dawn of Libya considers Haftar and the JAF intervention a greater threat to the GNC’s survival than the Islamic State. With General Haftar’s eager support, the JAF-COR coalition eliminates Salafi group strongholds in Benghazi, Derna, and Sirte.

Denouncing international intervention in Libya – especially one that has partnered with General Haftar – the General National Congress and Dawn of Libya attempt to counter the JAF-COR coalition. However, Turkey and Qatar either decide not to provide any support to the GNC, or not to provide extensive support, which allows the GNC’s eventual defeat by the dominating JAF airpower and the coalition of JAF and Libyan military ground forces. Upon the conclusion of conflict, there is the potential for a peacebuilding mission as we assessed in Scenario 1.1.1.2.2. A peacebuilding mission would still include rebuilding and strengthening a Libyan military, as well as securing the borders and disarming and reintegrating militias into society. The primary differences would be the elimination of Salafi groups and the fall of the GNC during the intervention, which would make a peacekeeping mission more feasible.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.1.1.1.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The willingness to actually follow through with ground and air force contribution pledges. The JAF intervention will only be efficient with the promised contributions of ground and air forces from its participants, as the intervention planning during the previous phase was designed with an adequate number of promised troop contributions in mind.
  2. The level of conflict between Salafi groups. If Salafi groups are still diverting fighters and resources to fight each other (notably Islamic State vs. Al-Qaida), the likelihood of this scenario increases, as Salafi groups will be forced to fight a larger two-front war against both their Salafi rivals and the JAF-COR coalition. A past indication took place in the summer of 2015 when the Islamic State was drawn into conflicts with Al-Qaida affiliates and later expelled from the Salafi stronghold of Derna (BBC News, June 25, 2015; Laessing and al-Warfalli, Reuters, July 24, 2015).
  3. The level of external support for Salafi groups. An influx of external support in the form of foreign fighters, resources, and guidance would boost the operational capabilities of Islamic State and Al-Qaida groups in Libya – which would pose a problem for the JAF intervention. Past indications include reports of an influx of foreign recruits headed to Sirte, as well as reports of senior Islamic State leaders arriving in Libya (El-Ghobashy and Morajea, The Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2015; Crilly, The Telegraph, December 2, 2015).
  4. The GNC’s perception of the JAF intervention and its support of the COR. If the Joint Arab Force intervenes in favor of the COR (including General Haftar), the GNC will perceive the intervention as a direct threat to its legitimacy and survival, as well as a violation of Libya’s sovereignty – and thus will attempt to galvanize all the armed factions in its territory to oppose the intervention force. A past indication occurred when the GNC condemned Egypt’s airstrikes on Derna as “an assault against Libyan sovereignty” (Bayoumy, Reuters, February 16, 2015).
  5. Ability of the JAF-COR coalition to simultaneously combat Salafi groups and Dawn of Libya forces. The GNC will feel seriously threatened by a JAF-COR coalition, and will actively deploy its forces to counter the intervention. In the same way, Salafi groups actively begin operating against the intervention force – forcing the JAF-COR coalition to simultaneously combat an array of enemies. The likelihood of this scenario depends in part on the airpower of the JAF, cohesiveness and military planning of the JAF-COR coalition, and its ability to launch offensives on the Islamic State strongholds while simultaneously engaging the GNC’s forces (as the Islamic State strongholds would likely be the first objective for a JAF intervention led by Egypt).
  6. The willingness of external actors to continue backing the GNC, or to provide extensive support. Focused on its issues in Syria and with Russia, as well as strategically countering Iran, Turkey may decide to not get involved in countering a JAF intervention in Libya, and thus not send any support to the GNC (Brooker, ValueWalk, December 12, 2015). If the United Arab Emirates is a primary participant in the JAF intervention, Qatar will likely remain a supporter of the GNC, considering the UAE-Qatar foreign policy rivalry (Cafiero and Wagner, The National Interest, December 11, 2015). However, if Qatar decides not to provide extensive support to the GNC or put troops on the ground to counter the JAF intervention, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  7. The perception of Libyan tribes towards foreign troops on the ground. Considering the deep impact of colonization on Libya’s tribal groups, some may consider foreign troops on Libyan soil reminiscent of colonization. However, Egypt has already foreseen this issue, and organized a meeting in May 2015 with Libyan tribal leaders to “coordinate operations and guarantee safe passage for the Arab troops,” in the event of a Joint Arab Force intervention in Libya (Mustafa, DefenseNews, May 10, 2015). Egypt’s meeting with Libyan tribal leaders serves to “reinforce the credibility” of a JAF intervention, thus mitigating tensions between tribes and foreign troops, and increasing the likelihood of this scenario. However, tribes siding with the GNC will likely perceive an intervention in a negative light and be willing to fight against both JAF and COR troops (see Mitchell, “Tribal Dynamics and Civil War II,” April 20, 2015).

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.1.1.2: The Joint Arab Force Intervention Results in Intensified, Protracted Conflict as Other External Actors get Involved to Support the GNC

Similar to the outset of scenario 2.1.1.1.1.1, the limited Joint Arab Force intervenes in Libya and backs the Council of Representatives in engaging Salafi groups and the GNC’s forces. However, in doing so, the JAF intervention revitalizes the conflict and forces the GNC to request extensive support from Turkey and Qatar as it repositions its forces to engage the JAF-COR coalition. Not wanting Islamist movements in Libya to be crushed, Qatar and Turkey provide support to the GNC, bulk up the GNC’s power by deploying forces under the pretext of countering Salafi threats in Libya, or go to war entirely. Any of these responses by Turkey and Qatar result in a protracted JAF intervention with fierce opposition by Dawn of Libya and their tribal allies. Turkish or Qatari military action against JAF forces also has the potential to ignite a regional conflict (see below).

Facing an intervention force, Al-Qaida and the Islamic State call for external support to bolster their forces in Libya with an influx of fighters and resources. With stronger external support and well-established strongholds from which to launch operations and expand territory, Al-Qaida and the Islamic State put increased pressure on the JAF and COR, which intensifies and prolongs the conflict.

Whether the GNC alone gains significant external support, Al-Qaida and the Islamic State alone gain significant external support, or both receive external support, the likelihood for an intensified, protracted conflict increases.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.1.1.1.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The willingness of external actors to provide additional support to the GNC. If the United Arab Emirates is a primary participant in the JAF intervention, Qatar will likely consider increasing its support for the GNC, considering the UAE-Qatar foreign policy rivalry (Cafiero and Wagner, The National Interest, December 11, 2015). Turkey may increase its support for the GNC, and possibly even deploy troops, if Saudi Arabia is not an active participant or supporting member of this JAF intervention, which would allow Turkey to expand its influence in the region without actively combatting Saudi Arabia (see Bokhari, Stratfor, May 5, 2015 for current Saudi-Turkish relations and regional goals).
  2. The level of external support for the GNC. If Turkey and Qatar are willing to boost their support for the GNC, their level of support will impact the likelihood of this scenario. Increasing arms shipments and vital resources shipments will help the GNC, but it may not be enough. If Turkey and Qatar decide that countering the JAF-COR coalition is strategically worth it, they may provide the GNC with air support, and possibly even ground troops if they plan to overtly fight the JAF-COR coalition. Air support and ground troops from these external actors increase the likelihood of this scenario occurring.
  3. The willingness of the Joint Arab Force to stay in Libya and fight a protracted conflict. The members of the Joint Arab Force intervention consider Libya a strategic situation that must be dealt with, lest that part of the region become completely destabilized and spread to their countries. Egypt, in particular, faces the most risk of a failed Libyan state and Salafi threats emanating from its next-door neighbor. If the JAF members are determined to side with the COR and eliminate Salafi threats despite the potential of protracted conflict, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  4. The inability to eliminate Salafi strongholds. If Islamic State and Al-Qaida leadership divert large numbers of jihadists and resources to Libya, the JAF may be unable to eliminate all the Salafi strongholds and be forced to abandon the intervention for fear of turning it into a bloody, drawn out conflict that further destabilizes the region.
  5. Indicators 3, 4, 5, 7 for sub-scenario 2.1.1.1.1.1 also act here in a similar way.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.1.1.2.1: General Conflagration of the Region

The limited deployments of Qatari and Turkish forces, or full-scale war against the JAF (who remain committed to staying and fighting) would likely cause general conflagration of the whole region and significantly impact the current geopolitical paradigm.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.1.1.2.2: The Joint Arab Force Intervention Fails, Forces a Withdrawal

Not wanting to remain in Libya for a drawn-out, bloody intervention with only a limited number of members, the Joint Arab Force withdraws its forces, and the intervention fails. After withdrawing, Egypt, the UAE, and Jordan may decide to provide substantial support to the COR in other ways, but they no longer desire to keep intervention forces on the ground in Libya.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.1.2 No Agreement Possible, No Joint Arab Force Created to Intervene for COR

The debate over whether to intervene in Libya or not came to an end when the pro-interventionist member states of the Arab League (Egypt, UAE, Jordan) abandon the creation of a Joint Arab Force, as they lack Saudi support and are instead asked to participate in Saudi Arabia’s newly announced counter-terrorism coalition to combat Al-Qaida and Islamic State threats (Omran and Fitch, The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2015). Not wanting to launch an independent intervention without additional support, Egypt, the UAE, and Jordan consider Saudi Arabia’s new counterterrorism coalition less of a risk, but perhaps still able to provide Libya with assistance to combat Salafi threats (although they would not intervene for the COR).

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.1.1.2 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of Saudi support for a Joint Arab Force. With the creation of its new counter-terrorism coalition, Saudi Arabia is highly unlikely to participate or support a Joint Arab Force at this point. Without Saudi backing, and with a larger coalition whose mission is counter-terrorism rather than intervention and backing particular governments, the likelihood of this scenario increases.
  2. The level of risk between joining a Joint Arab Force or the Saudi-formed anti-terror coalition. If Egypt, the UAE, and Jordan consider the Saudi-formed coalition far less of a risk (considering the member states involved and the levels of support), they may abandon the idea of a Joint Arab Force and instead offer to combat Al-Qaida and the Islamic State in Libya through the counterterrorism coalition – thus increasing the likelihood of this scenario.

Bibliography

Featured Photo: Egyptian helicopters unload troops by SSgt. Cherie Thurlby, U.S. Air Force [Public Domain] via Wikimedia, October 25, 2001

Ahmed Al Omran and Asa Fitch, “Saudi Arabia Forms Muslim Antiterror Coalition,” The Wall Street Journal, December 15, 2015

Awad Mustafa, “Arab Chiefs To Meet on Libya Intervention,” DefenseNews, May 10, 2015

Giorgio Cafiero and Daniel Wagner, “How the Gulf Arab Rivalry Tore Libya Apart,” The National Interest, December 11, 2015

“Islamic State moves in on al-Qaeda turf,” BBC News, June 25, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures – Tribal Dynamics and Civil War II,” The Red Team Analysis Society, April 20, 2015

Kamran Bokhari, “Why Sunni Unity Is a Myth,” STRATFOR Global Intelligence, May 5, 2015

Rob Crilly, “Islamic State is building a ‘retreat zone’ in Libya with 3000 fighters, say UN experts,” The Telegraph, December 2, 2015

Stephen Paul Brooker, “Russia vs. Turkey: Competition For Influence,” ValueWalk, December 12, 2015

Tamer El-Ghobashy and Hassan Morajea, “Islamic State Tightens Grip on Libyan Stronghold of Sirte,” The Wall Street Journal, November 29, 2015

Ulf Laessing and Ayman al-Warfalli, “Expulsion from Derna bastion may show limits for Islamic State in Libya,” Reuters, July 24, 2015

Yara Bayoumy, “Tripoli-based parliament says Egyptian strike assault on sovereignty: spokesman,” Reuters, February 16, 2015

At War against a Global Islamic State – Facing a Strategic Trap in Somalia?

The Islamic State’s actions are continuing globally, unfortunately illustrating the points made previously in “A Global Theatre of War” (23 Nov 2015), with the San Bernardino attacks in the U.S. on 2 December 2015 (BBC News, 7 Dec 2015) and the stabbing of three people in the tube station in London on 5 December 2015 (e.g. The Telegraph, 7 dec 2015). Meanwhile, and despite setbacks in Mesopotamia where the Islamic State is besieged in Ramadi, where it lost Sinjar to the Kurds and Yazidis, but immediately reopened a new route between Mosul and Raqqa, the Khilafah continues its strategy to call to new people, for example with the publication of a first Nasheed in Mandarin likely aimed at the Hui, Chinese Muslims, however unlikely the Hui as a group may appear to be susceptible to the Khilafah propaganda (Patrick Martin, “Control Map of Ramadi: December 9, 2015“, ISW; Stephen Kalin, “Sinjar aftermath highlights Islamic State resilience in Iraq“, Reuters, 7 Dec 2015“New nashīd from The Islamic State: “Mujāhid”, 6 December 2015; Jihadology.net; Victoria Ho, Mashable, 9 Dec 2015; Brent Crane, “A Tale of Two Chinese Muslim Minorities“, The Diplomat, August 22, 2014). Indeed, the number of foreign fighters joining the Islamic State and other extremist groups in Syria and Iraq is estimated as having boomed between June 1014 and November 2015 (The Soufan Group, Foreign Fighters, Dec 2015), and this report does not consider fighters joining the Islamic State outside Mesopotamia, as indicated by the arrest in Tunisia of two French men trying to join the Islamic State in Libya (Reuters, 30 Nov 2015).

More than ever, a global strategy in the war against the Islamic State must be designed, considering all geographical theatres of war from local to global and their interactions. This article, part of the series singling out risks to a strategy that would only or mainly pay attention to one theatre of war and along one dimension, will illustrate the imperative need to consider the global geographical implantation of the Islamic State and its Khilafah by focusing on a specific case, the recent Islamic State’s “call to Somalia” and its answer, against the backdrop of the Islamic State’s presence in the Sinai, in Yemen, as well as in Libya.

As previously, this article is located at the strategic level and not at the current tactical and operational counter-terrorist level. It is thus not concerned with following specific individuals for police operations, but seeks to provide strategic elements that could orientate new strategies to face the Islamic State and its Khilafah, and, as a result, more efficient tactical and operational actions.

Continue reading At War against a Global Islamic State – Facing a Strategic Trap in Somalia?

Scenarios for the Future of Libya – Scenarios 2 (1) – The Joint Arab Force Takes a Side

After having examined the first scenarios – diplomatic negotiations between the Council of Representatives (COR) and General National Congress (GNC) towards peace – with this article we shall begin detailing a second set of scenarios focusing on external intervention and evaluating their likelihood. The organization of the whole series for the future of Libya can be found here.

This scenario and its sub-scenarios are grounded in the premises that despite the advocacy of external actors to avoid foreign involvement in Libya’s civil war, consideration of intervention increases as Libya heads closer to a failed state, and as Islamic State (IS) and Al-Qaida affiliates expand their areas of operation. In our first intervention scenarios category, external actors decide to intervene in Libya’s civil war to support one of the rival governments in an attempt to bring about a Libyan government favorable to their national interest. External actors in this category include the Joint Arab Force, unilateral then multinational forces not operating under a formal collective security force.

Our second category, which will be detailed in future posts, will look at external actors that intervene to stabilize the country enough to allow enhanced negotiations for a peace agreement and/or one that intervenes solely to combat Salafi forces. Failed peace negotiations, a lack of peace negotiations, an expanded presence of Salafi groups, or a war of attrition force external actors to consider and subsequently decide to militarily intervene in Libya under this second category.

Sub-scenario 2.1: External Intervention

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see an external intervention occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Level of strong and visible successes of Salafi groups in Libya. External actors feeling threatened by Salafi conquest of territory in Libya and their increased lethality would strongly advocate for a military intervention. If the international community, particularly the EU and Arab neighbors, deem the Libyan governments unable to sufficiently combat these Salafi threats emanating from Libya, they will feel compelled to intervene for the sake of their own national security. Past indications include Egyptian President El-Sisi and French President Hollande’s recent exchanges on “the importance of fighting extremists in Libya” (Ahram Online, November 30, 2015) and the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr. Gargash’s recent remarks at a National Media Council Press conference, which highlighted the importance of eliminating terrorist groups in Libya, second only to peace negotiations producing a peace agreement between the rival governments (Khaleej Times, December 1, 2015).
  2. Global tension. Further degradation and polarization of the overall international environment could prompt external forces to intervene in Libya for legitimate or illegitimate reasons. For instance, the Russian Federation could decide to deploy forces in Libya – particularly to combat Islamic State elements there – in a move to strengthen regional interests and also in a bid to prevent any potential future NATO unilateral intervention, thus perceived as expansionist by Russia.
  3. The legality of a military intervention. The legality of recent interventions has become a murky issue lately, particularly regarding Syria. The right to self-defense, as stated by the UN Charter, does not traditionally apply in Libya’s case. However, the Islamic State’s division of Libya into three wilayats, furthermore potentially combined with an Islamic State attack on, for example, Arab League member states’ citizens in Libya or on Arab League member states themselves may trigger the “individual or collective” self-defense response in the UN Charter, Chapter VII, art. 51 (UN Charter, Chapter VII; Jones and El-Ghobashy, The Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2015). The other option is a decision by the UN Security Council to intervene. However, if the UN Security Council denies requests for intervention, outside the right to self-defense, any other military intervention falls under questionable legality. Unilateral or multilateral forces could attempt to replicate intervention actions taken in Syria, as both countries have primary domestic opponents with disputed legitimacy, as well as Islamic State threats mixed in to the conflict.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1: Intervention in Support of GNC or COR

External actors have decided to militarily intervene in Libya by taking a side with either the GNC or COR.

Scenarios 2 1, Intervention in Libya, Scenario future of Libya Libya, war in Libya
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Sub-scenario 2.1.1.1: The Arab League Tries to Take a Side

Saudi Arabia’s indefinite postponing of the next meeting to form a Joint Arab Force came to an end as the United Arab Emirates and Egypt call for a League of Arab States (LAS) meeting to decide about an intervention in Libya, necessary for regional stability and that should be carried out by the Joint Arab Force (JAF). Indeed, Egypt and the UAE fear to see the Muslim Brotherhood gaining influence there, while the Salafi groups pose a direct threat to Egypt and regional stability. Egypt, notably is taken in a pincer between the Islamic State wilayat Sinai and the three Islamic State wilayats in Libya. The threat has become so pressing that they have managed overcoming Saudi Arabia reluctance to at least discussing the matter.

Although Saudi Arabia initially supported the JAF idea, the issue of the JAF mission is now highly disputed between Egypt and Saudi Arabia: should a Joint Arab Force be deployed “into states without an uncontested government in place” or not (Gaub, European Union Institute for Security Studies, October 2015)? Saudi Arabia is also more than lukewarm to intervene again as its protracted intervention in Yemen bogged it down there.

The Arab League’s Secretary General emphasizes that a Joint Arab Force should focus on counter-terrorism and regional stability, rather than building a military alliance (Ibid). Yet, the Arab League’s Secretary General (who is also empowered to make JAF deployment decisions if a member state is incapable of submitting a request for assistance) and the potential commanders within the Future Joint Arab Force are also supportive of the COR, because of its international recognition as the legitimate government, its strong counter-terrorism stance, as well as because the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia favor for the COR and General Haftar (see Mitchell, “War in Libya and Its Futures – State of Play – Nationalist Forces (2); Al Arabiya News, April 13, 2015; Gaub, European Union Institute for Security Studies, October 2015).

Meanwhile, Algeria, Tunisia and Qatar continue camping on their positions in opposition to military intervention in Libya, and advocating for a peaceful resolution (African Defense, June 1, 2015; Gaub, European Union Institute for Security Studies, October 2015; Soliman, Ahram Online, August 19, 2015).

The countries that tend to favor the COR support a JAF intervention in Libya while others support the idea of non-intervention – based on their preference for a peaceful approach (i.e. Tunisia, Algeria), as well as the existence of Muslim Brotherhood supporters within their government that lean towards the GNC, and potential difficulties at home, or a combination of these options. Considering the position of each country, the debates are very animated to say the least.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.1.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. Ability of the Arab League to define the mission of the Joint Arab Force. Without a clear definition of the JAF mission, Arab League members’ disagreements will hinder its creation – preventing a serious conversation about a Libyan intervention from ever taking place.
  2. Perceptions of national interests regarding Libya leading to conflicting positions. The two primary interests in Libya for external Arab actors, besides the threat to regional instability of total state collapse, are whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood becomes a dominating political force and the presence of Islamic State and Al-Qaida strongholds. Egypt and the UAE in particular have exhibited strong interest in Libya’s civil war due to their fear of the Muslim Brotherhood gaining influence there, as well as the existence and danger of the Salafi groups that pose a threat to Egypt and regional stability. A past indication occurred when Egypt and the UAE launched air strikes against “Islamist-allied militias battling for control of Tripoli” (Kirkpatrick and Schmitt, The New York Times, August 25, 2014). Leading advocates for a JAF force have already provided support for or have common interests with the COR and General Haftar – notably Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. Arab League members with alternative political views or stronger concerns over regional instability as a result of the absence of a unity government will not be as willing to choose a side. Additionally, some member states may consider the risk of only backing the COR, which Jason Pack and Mattia Toaldo (Foreign Policy, March 6, 2015) note would be “counterproductive” in that it “risks pushing the moderate Islamists within Libya Dawn toward finding common cause with the jihadis.” Meanwhile, pressing domestic and foreign issues may dissuade some Arab League member states from participating in a Joint Arab Force or even supporting it, as a JAF intervention in Libya may cause spill-over and further agitate their already-existing problems. For example, Tunisia, Algeria, and Sudan are already dealing with terrorism, economic problems, and/or border control issues (Middle East Eye, December 1, 2015; The Economist, November 17, 2015; Cafiero, Al-Monitor, November 23, 2015; Strasser, United States Institute of Peace, November 12, 2015). Moreover, Saudi Arabia’s protracted intervention in Yemen may prevent or limit its participation or support of a JAF intervention in Libya’s complex struggle, although significant expansion of Salafi groups in Libya (to the point of toppling the governments, military, and moderate militia groups) may sway the Kingdom’s reluctance to join the intervention talks.
  3. The level of opposition by Arab states that support a peaceful resolution. Arab League members like Algeria, Tunisia and Qatar have made statements in opposition to military intervention in Libya, and instead advocate for a peaceful resolution (African Defense, June 1, 2015; Gaub, European Union Institute for Security Studies, October 2015; Soliman, Ahram Online, August 19, 2015). Algeria and Tunisia both border Western Libya and may be more influential than Arab League members that do not border Libya. If the leading advocates of a military intervention in Libya by the JAF (i.e. Egypt and the UAE) act under the JAF umbrella but against the other members’ opposition, it may cause political fragmentation between member states.

Sub-scenario 2.1.1.1.1: The Arab League Internally Fragments over the Decision to Intervene, Joint Arab Force is Formed

The debate over whether to intervene in Libya or not came to an end when Egypt, the UAE, and Jordan, the pro-interventionist member states of the Arab League, formally respond to the COR’s request for assistance and unite under a Joint Arab Force. The minimum membership of three participants in a JAF intervention (Al Arabiya News, May 26, 2015; Voice of America, May 25, 2015) is met, thus the JAF can formally be created. With participants now officially formed under a regional force, their military chiefs begin coordinating plans for the intervention.

Saudi Arabia decides not to participate, notably because of its involvement in Yemen and of the overall tension with Iran, which is its foremost concern. However, it wishes to keep its options opened and thus neither opposes nor supports the intervention and the JAF, which cause tensions in Egypt-Saudi relations, as they are supposed to be the primary leaders for a Joint Arab Force. Egypt, considering its need for the overall financial support of Saudi Arabia has invested a considerable amount of diplomatic energy to obtain this rather neutral Saudi position, although it would have preferred a full implication of the Kingdom in the JAF. With the lack of Saudi support, Egypt takes the lead in forming a JAF intervention force for Libya.

Opposition to the JAF pro-COR intervention by outspoken countries like Qatar, Tunisia, and Algeria cause some tension within the Arab League. The tension and fragmentation within the Arab League threaten the idea of a truly collective Arab force – thus turning the JAF into an interventionist force with powerful, but few members. Nonetheless, a real JAF has emerged and is about to start intervening in Libya.

Indicators to Monitor

Below are the main indicators we identified that impact the likelihood to see scenario 2.1.1.1.1 occurring. They should thus be monitored.

  1. The level of opposition by Arab states that support a peaceful resolution. As noted in indicator 3 of scenario 2.1.1.1 above, a staunch divide between Arab states supporting non-intervention and those supporting intervention increases the likelihood of this scenario.
  2. The situation of ongoing operations elsewhere in the region. Ongoing conflicts involving Arab League member states in other parts of the Middle East will likely impact their willingness to participate in another intervention – thus contributing to the divide between interventionists and non-interventionists in the case of Libya. For example, Saudi Arabia’s coalition is bogged down in a protracted intervention in Yemen (Menas Associates, August 19, 2015; Naylor, The New York Times, November 13, 2015). Participants in the Saudi-led intervention include the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and Sudan (Anadolu Agency, November 12, 2015) – some of which may get exhausted by Operation Decisive Storm in Yemen and decide, as a result, to oppose another intervention in Libya.
  3. Willingness of potential JAF members to pledge troop and air contributions, begin planning. During talks at the Arab League meetings, participating members in a Joint Arab Force must pledge to contribute troops and resources in preparation for an immediate deployment to Libya. With the estimated strength of contribution pledges, the military chiefs of the participating member states must then draw up plans for intervention.
  4. The level of urgency to prevent IS attacks emanating from Libya or IS expansion. The threat of imminent IS attacks or expansion increase the level of urgency felt by pro-interventionist Arab states, and thus increase the likelihood of this scenario and potentially shorten the timeframe by hastening intervention.

In our forthcoming post, we shall evaluate the scenarios of a Joint Arab Force intervention once it deploys to Libya.

Bibliography

Featured Photo: Arab League meeting by Bahrain Ministry of Foreign Affairs, [CC BY-ND 2.0] via Flickr, January 22, 2012

“A larger role for Saudi Arabia in Libya?” Menas Associates, August 19, 2015

“Algeria warns against foreign intervention in North Africa,” Middle East Eye, December 1, 2015

Alia Soliman, “Is the Arab League setting the stage for military intervention in Libya?” Ahram Online, August 19, 2015

“Arab military chiefs draft joint force protocol,” Al Arabiya News, May 26, 2015

“Army Chiefs Plan for Proposed Joint Arab Force in Mideast,” Voice of America, May 25, 2015

David D. Kirkpatrick and Eric Schmitt, “Arab Nations Strike in Libya, Surprising U.S.,” The New York Times, August 25, 2014

“Egypt’s Sisi stresses need for int’l coordination in fighting terrorism during France meeting,” Ahram Online, November 30, 2015

Florence Gaub, “Stuck in the barracks: the Joint Arab Force,” European Union Institute for Security Studies, Brief Issue 31, October 2015

Fred Strasser, “In Tunisia, Economic Crisis Threatens Political Progress,” United States Institute of Peace, November 12, 2015

Giorgio Cafiero, “Sudan gets $2.2B for joining Saudi Arabia, Qatar in Yemen war,” Al-Monitor, November 23, 2015

Hugh Naylor, “Yemen is turning into Saudi Arabia’s Vietnam,” The New York Times, November 13, 2015

Jason Pack and Mattia Toaldo, “Why Picking Sides in Libya Won’t Work,” Foreign Policy, March 6, 2015

Jon Mitchell, “War in Libya and its Futures: State of Play – Nationalist Forces (2),” The Red Team Analysis Society, December 1, 2014

“Jordan pledges support for Libya in talks with General Haftar,” Al Arabiya News, April 13, 2015

Rory Jones and Tamer El-Ghobashy, “Arab League Agrees to Create Joint Military Force,” The Wall Street Journal, March 29, 2015

“Saudi Arabia’s military campaign in Yemen, 8 months on,” Anadolu Agency, November 12, 2015

“Tunisia confronts corruption, the economy and Islamic State,” The Economist, November 17, 2015

“Tunisia Rejects Military Intervention in Libya,” African Defense, June 1, 2015

“UAE ready to commit land forces to fight terrorism,” Khaleej Times, December 1, 2015

United Nations Charter, Chapter VII

The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 227 – 5 November 2015

Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals… Each section focuses on signals related to a specific theme: world (international politics and geopolitics); economy; science; analysis, strategy and futures; technology and weapons; energy and environment. However, in a complex world, categories are merely a convenient way to present information, when facts and events interact across boundaries.

Read the 5 November 2015 scan  

The Weekly is the scan of The Red (Team) Analysis Society and it focuses on national and international security issues. It was started as an experiment with Paper.li as a way to collect ideas, notably through Twitter. Its success and its usefulness led to its continuation.

The information collected (crowdsourced) does not mean endorsement but points to new, emerging, escalating or stabilizing problems and issues.

If you wish to consult the scan after the end of the week period, use the “archives” directly on The Weekly.

Featured image: “C-band Radar-dish Antenna”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.

Energy Transmutation in the Middle East: Egypt and Israel

While climate change is hammering the Middle East, and as Syria and Iraq are engulfed in war (Valantin, “Climate nightmare in the Middle East”, The Red Team Analysis Society, September 14, 2015), Egypt and Israel are going through a profound energy revolution.

In effect, since 2011, Israel ENI Oil platform Bouri DP4, ENI, Egypt, Israel, Leviathanhas discovered two giant natural gas off-shore deposits (Valantin, “Israel, Natural Gas and Power in the Middle East”, The Red Team Analysis Society, April 27, 2015) while in August 2015, the oil Italian company ENI has discovered a mammoth off-shore natural deposit in the Egyptian economic exclusive zone (Anthony Dipaola, “ENI discovers massive gas fields in the Mediterranean”, Bloomberg Business, August 30, 2015).

In other terms, these two countries are transforming themselves into a new, and quite strange breed of energy power.

During the first sixty years of its existence, Israel has no access to energy natural resources. On the contrary, Egypt has been an important exporter of natural gas during the same period. In effect, Egypt is a large producer and exporter of natural gas. Its proven reserves of 77 trillion cubic feet are the highest in Africa after Nigeria and Algeria (Egypt, Energy information Agency, June 2, 2015).

When the supply available for trade is not disrupted by attacks and by the rapidly growing domestic demand, Egyptian dry natural gas is exported through the Arab Gas Pipeline to Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, with a Mediterranean sub-sea segment joining El Arish to Ashkelon in IsraeGrieving_friends_and_relatives_gather_outside_the_Agouza_Police_Hosptial_after_a_series_of_explosions_at_Cairo_University_left_many_dead_or_wounded_-_Cairo_2-Apr-2014l. Indeed, in 2012, Egypt became an importer because of the bombings on the pipelines that year and the decrease in production (Egypt, Energy information Agency, ibid; Gismatullin, “Egypt importing gas for the first time as export disappear”, Bloomberg Business, December 11, 2012). Thus, the ENI discovery has the potential to change again the energy situation for Egypt.

The Israelis and Egyptian natural gas discoveries are transforming the status of these countries through their mutation not only into gas producers, but also into new energy, hence strategic and political powers.

They are acquiring this status that has eluded them during the whole twentieth century, when other Middle East countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran, or Kuwait, were harnessing their development to their more or less important oil and gas deposits and were becoming the centre of the world competition for energy (Michael Klare, Rising Powers, Shrinking Planet, 2008).

Now, in 2015, Israel and Egypt are becoming energy power. They are on the front line of the current race for every new deposit of oil or natural gas anywhere in the world (Marin Katusa, The Colder War, 2014).

Shifting a shifting balance of power

The discovery of the new Egyptian natural gas deposit might be quite destabilizing for Israel, as it might somehow question Israel’s own path to becoming a new energy power through the exploitation of the Tamal and Leviathan off-shore natural gas fields. The Tamar and the Leviathan fields hold respectively 10 and between 19 and 22 trillion cubic feet of gas of estimated reserves, which could ensure decades of domestic consumption as well as exports (Katusa, ibid).

249px-Benjamin_Netanyahu_portraitIn effect, since the beginning of 2015, the Israeli political authorities have decided to sell gas to Jordan and to Egypt, which could import from 145 to 210 million cubic feet of LNG per day during 2015 (“Egypt’s petroleum minister increases purchase price of gas from new developments”Natural Gas Europe, March 24th, 2015).

Thus, for Israel, selling natural gas to Egypt and Jordan was a way to secure and sustain its new status in the region.

However, this political and strategic change is already challenged by the ENI discovery.

Israel was planning to use the sale of gas to Egypt as the main driver for the development of the Leviathan field (Steve Levine, “A gigantic natural gas discovery in Egypt means Israel has to find a new customer for its gas”, Quartz, August 31, 2015), which has accumulated multiple delays because of Israeli’s internal political and judiciary conflicts about the legal status of the energy developers (Scott Belinsky, “Not everyone is happy about latest’s Egypt gas discovery”, Oil Price, 03 September 2015). Meanwhile, the tensions with the Palestinian Hamas do not change and are entangled with the political tensions in Israel.

In this context, the Egyptian discovery could be profoundly questioning the Israeli energy strategy, while the south of the Mediterranean Sea is witnessing the emergence of two important gas natural powers.

To collapse or not to collapse?

However, Egypt and Israel are not simply potential competitors on the natural gas market. They are also both impacted by the destabilization of the whole region, through the rise of extremely violent and armed militant Islamism (Helene Lavoix, Portal to the Islamic State War, The Red Team Analysis Society), combined to the rise of extreme economic and social inequalities (Hamit Bozarslan, Révolution et état de violence, Moyen-Orient, 2011-2015), and growing politico-environmental tensions.

These developments turn these two countries into emerging energy power in a region on the verge of collapse (Jean-Michel Valantin, “Environment, climate change, war and state”, The Red Team Analysis Society, 16th march, 2015).

In effect, the Egyptian government, led byPresident_Sisi President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, must fight different Islamist insurgencies, especially the growing presence of guerrillas, which have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State in the Sinai. Since 2011, violent militant Islamism has grown continuously. The Egyptian army and police are leading a war against these groups (Lally Weymouth, “Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi who talks “a lot” with Netanyahu, says in country in danger of collapse”, The Washington Post, March 12, 2015).

This situation leads the Egyptian government to buy armaments to Russia and France, in order to intensify their strategic efforts against the jihadis, who work at installing a radical religious regime in Egypt (Jamey Kiten, “France: Egypt first foreign buyer of Rafale fighters Cairo purchases 24 multi-role jets as part of $6 billion defence deal », Times of Israel, February 13, 2015).

This internal war is embedded in a very profound social and economic crisis, which comes from the growth of inequalities since the 1980s, and the fact that, through the development of education and the access to the internet, the different social groups that constitute the society have become aware of these inequalities (Bozarslan, ibid). This creates new political conditions, which are expressed through different forms of protests, and are profoundly changing the Egyptian political field.

In the same time, the war conditions have a repulsive effect on tourism flows and a negative impact on the energy infrastructures, thus threaten both social cohesion and economic activity. (Jean-Michel Valantin, “Security and sustainability: the future of Egypt?”, The Red (Team) Analysis Society, April 28, 2014).

Given this situation, the off-shore natural gas discovery, which is going to attract investments and a renewed strategic attention, has the potential to reinforce the capacity of the Egyptian government to protect the population.

In effect, selling natural gas generates important and permanent financial cash flows, much-needed by the Egyptian government in order to guarantee public services, the military and, most importantly, the capacity to buy food, especially wheat, on the international market, without which the population is threatened with hunger  (David P. Goldman, “Wheat at record is the worst thing that could happen to Egypt“, Gatestone Institute, July 20, 2012).

320px-WheatEgyptIn Egypt, the lack of wheat, or rising food prices, can trigger violent urban riots and support the proselytising of radical Islam militancy (Shadia Nasralla and Shamine Saleh, “Egypt food supplies Shake Up sees officials deferred to prosecutor“, Reuters, 24 February 2014).

Furthermore, this new energy input is going to be extremely useful to support the adaptation of Egypt to the effects of climate change (Valantin, “Egypt and climate security”, The Red Team Analysis Society, May 12, 2014), which can be anticipated through the consequences of the violence of extreme weather events and their brutality for people, infrastructures and social cohesion as the long and extreme heat wave during the summer of 2015 has shown (Valantin, “Climate nightmare in the Middle East”, The Red Team Analysis Society, September 14, 2015).

This means that natural gas is going to become a main support for the legitimacy of the Egyptian government, and can help slow the dynamics of violence and decay of this influential country in the Middle East.

The new energy Egyptian-Israeli nexus?

The development of the Egyptian off-shore natural gas deposit by ENI will necessitate some time, during which Egypt will continue to buy gas from Israel. The Israel political authorities, knowing that this situation will not last, are going to be put under strong pressure to define a clear energy strategy for their country (Belinsky, ibid).

This pressure is building up because of the convergence of the necessity to find new markets for the leviathan gas field with the profound changes occurring in the Middle East energy configuration. The latter results from the creation of the Russian “blue stream” gas pipe-line in Turkey (“Gazprom to build new 63 bcm Black Sea pipeline to Turkey instead of South Stream”, Russia Today, December 1, 2014) added to the new Chinese energy strategy with Iran (“China, Pakistan sign gas pipeline deal key to Iran imports”, Press TV, April 21, 2015) and to the coming end of the energy embargo on Iranian exports.

In the same time, Israel and Egypt are, now, sharing the same strategic problem with the growing presence of radical Islamist militancy, especially stemming from the Islamic State (IS), because of the   multiple attacks led by the IS in the Sinai against the Egyptian army, and its challenge to the Palestinian Hamas (“Islamic State threatens to topple Hamas in Gaza strip in video statement”, The Guardian, 30 June 2015).

In other terms, the coming development of the Egyptian natural gas off-shore deposit will take place in a strategic context dominated by the convergence of the Egyptian and Israel strategic interests.

This strategic “competitive cooperation” is going to be profoundly influenced by Russia’s and Iran’s current power games in the region.

To be (soon) continued.

Jean-Michel Valantin, (PhD Paris) leads the Environment and Security Department of The Red (Team) Analysis Society. He is specialised in strategic studies and defense sociology with a focus on environmental geostrategy.

Featured image: Border between Israel and Egypt visible from space, NASA/Chris Hadfield, Public Domain.

The Red (Team) Analysis Weekly 196 – Yemen, towards the End of the U.N.?

Each week our scan collects weak – and less weak – signals…

Read the 26 March scan  

World – As the world wonders about the motivation that could prompt the copilot of Germanwings to crash a plane, and while the hypothesis of a terrorist intention is most probably on everyone’s mind, a very large number of crowdsourced articles this week were about the 26 March 2015 Saudi-led coalition’s attack in Yemen on the advancing Houthi Shi’a militias. These strikes are an answer to a call by Yemeni President Hadi. According to AFP/Reuters (see featured article), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates announced the attack, while the U.S. said it would bring logistical and intelligence support. Egypt also participated, and, according to Saudi Arabia, “Jordan, Morocco and Sudan”, as well as Pakistan, wish to participate. Meanwhile, the U.S., which, until now had not participated in the Iraqi army and Shi’a militias offensive against the Islamic State in Tikrit, Iraq, announced that it will now provide air support to the Iraqi operation.

Taken together, these two developments most obviously underline how much of a powder-keg and quagmire the overall situation in the Middle East has become. If one add to them the recent debate over a potential intervention in Libya or not, then the decision to attack in Yemen also points out that the United Nations (U.N.) and the world order are currently facing a potentially critical situation. Focusing on Yemen, Jay Ulfelder explains in a detailed and clear way in his 22 March “Watching the States Get Made“, the intricacies of the current normative world order, as embodied by the U.N., as well as, sometimes the double language that needs to be used to see it continue. Indeed, to be internationally legitimate, any attack on another country should be authorised by the U.N. If the situation in Yemen was discussed at the U.N. security council on 22 March, however, no attack nor strike was authorised, as shown by the official Statement by the President of the Security Council (UN document). Yet, the attack now has taken place, thus locating it knowingly outside the current international legitimacy framework, despite a letter informing the U.N. in advance of the attacks.

On the contrary, in Libya, the refusal to intervene was respected.

The risk entailed not only by the illegitimate attack but also by the different behaviours is to see the U.N. and the even imperfect order it embodies start – or continue – to disaggregate and crumble.  This danger, on top of the very complex situation in Yemen and in the larger MENA region, most probably is what underscores the worried statement issued by China, stating its “deep concern”, and recalling it “urges all parties to act in accordance with United Nations Security Council resolutions on Yemen, and to resolve the dispute through dialogue.”

If the decisions of a system and the norms that uphold it are respected only from time to time, when it suits actors according to their national interest, then it enhances the probability to see this system becoming increasingly an empty shell. As pointed out by Ulfelder mixed motives and double language are not new. However, what is enhanced now is the utter disregard into which a U.N. decision has been held (for Yemen), as well as the proximity in time of two opposite responses to U.N. decisions (regarding Libya and Yemen), which thus highlights the preeminence of national interests.

It may well be that the situation in the MENA region is too dangerous, too fluid and too complex to accommodate a system that thrived during the stable bipolar world of the Cold War. Should the U.N. know a fate similar to the League of Nations, we might then see emerge a different world, ruled first by the balance of power and complex “games of thrones”, where war is not outlawed anymore, beyond declarations that will increasingly be seen as empty or hypocritical.

Economy – The large increase in junk bonds and debts related to the shale oil industry, considering low oil prices is notably highlighted this week.

Tech and weapons – The featured article for this section focuses again on China and a potential “space weapon threat”.

Environment and Energy  – First of all, two worrying signals, one regarding the impact of manganese pollution on bees, which are crucial as pollinators, and another one regarding the possible slowing down of the Ocean’s conveyor belt.  Then, Dr Daum focuses on water, as March 22, 2015 was the UN sponsored World Water Day. Among others, this reminds us how fashionable events may be integrated within a strategy of delivery of strategic foresight and warning to enhance the odds to see them heard. Dr Daum thus underlines that, according to the UNICEF statistics, “despite important worldwide gains in improving access to reliable drinking water, 748 million people still do not have access to clean water. One major area of water use that was discussed this week is with activities related to the coal industry: mining, washing, and cooling of power plants. Greenpeace has called for using less water on coal production and use and more for basic human needs. Meanwhile, another important article on RealClimate discussed the recent meeting in Schloss Ringberg, Germany on the sensitivity of climate to increasing level of CO2. There was some important discussion among scientists with new and developing information about sensitivity factors.”

The Weekly is the scan of The Red (Team) Analysis Society and it focuses on national and international security issues. 

The information collected is crowdsourced. It does not mean endorsement but points to new, emerging, escalating or stabilising problems and issues.

If you wish to consult the scan after the end of the week period, use the “archives” directly on The Weekly.

probability assess sc

Featured image: “C-band Radar-dish Antenna”. Licensed under Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.